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Casual Classics Season Finale

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The Atlanta Percussion Trio to Perform in Jasper on May 6, 2013

Jasper Muse, Inc. and the Creative & Performing Arts Academy along with Concert Master Suzanne Shull are pleased to announce that the final Casual Classics Concert of the 2012-2013 Season will be a performance by the Atlanta Percussion Trio on Monday May 6, 2013 at the New Lebanon Presbyterian Church located at 389 Bent Tree Drive just outside Bent Tree and a short drive from both Jasper and Big Canoe. The concerts are Free and open to the public and are well attended. We hope you will take this opportunity to hear an outstanding performance, meet other community arts patrons and support the thriving arts community here in Pickens County and North Georgia.

Concert Master Shull reports that planning is already well under way for Season 8, which will begin in September.

I hope to see you there on the 6th and as always….

See you ’round the mountains,


Real Estate Provisions in “Fiscal Cliff” Bill

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Fiscal Cliff

Off We Go….

Here is the latest information on Real Estate Related provisions of the bill passed by Congress.

On January 1, 2013, the Senate and House passed H.R. 8, legislation to avert the “fiscal cliff,” and the bill will be signed by President Barack Obama on January 2, 2013. Below are a summary of real estate-related provisions in the bill.

Real Estate Tax Extenders
Mortgage cancellation relief is extended for one year to January 1, 2014.
Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums for filers making below $110,000 is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
The 15 year straight-line cost recovery for qualified leasehold improvements on commercial properties is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.
The 10 percent Energy Efficiency Tax Credit (up to $500) for homeowners who make energy efficiency improvements to existing homes is extended through 2013 and made retroactive to cover 2012.

Capital Gains
The capital gains rate stays at 15 percent for those making up to $400,000 (individual) or $450,000 (joint return). After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20 percent. The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for the sale of a principle residence remains in place.
Estate Tax
The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that, the rate will be 40 percent, up from 35 percent. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

Permanent Repeal of Pease Limitations for 99 Percent of Taxpayers
Under the agreement, so-called “Pease Limitations” that reduce the value of itemized deductions are permanently repealed for most taxpayers, but will be reinstituted for high-income filers. These limitations will only apply to individuals earning more than $250,000 and joint filers earning above $300,000. The thresholds have been increased and are indexed for inflation.
Under the formula, the amount of adjusted gross income above the threshold is multiplied by 3 percent. That amount is then used to reduce the total value of the filer’s itemized deductions. The total amount of reduction cannot exceed 80 percent of the filer’s itemized deductions.
The limitations were first enacted in 1990 (named for the Ohio Congressman Don Pease who came up with the idea)and continued throughout the Clinton years. They were gradually phased out as a result of the 2001 tax cuts and were completely eliminated in 2010-2012. In the absence of this legislation, Pease Limitations would have been reinstituted on all filers, starting at $174,450 of adjusted gross income.


The Stock Market reacted very positively to the bill – now lets see what happens with Real Estate!

See ya ’round the mountains.

Tips to Overcome Winter Gloom and Sell Faster

Monday, December 31st, 2012


North Georgia Real Estate in Winter

Showing your home in Winter has its own special challenges!

Content provided by RESource and used with permission.

If your home will be for sale this winter, it is important to master certain seasonal issues that are less significant or even non-existent at other times of the year. Here are a few tips to aid in the successful sale of your home:

• Brighten it up: Counter the cloudy days of winter by making your home stand out. Keep the lights on in the front of the house even if no showings are scheduled. You never know who will be driving by to take a peek.

• Don’t overlook a place for shoes: Prospective buyers and guests will likely be schlepping through your home with muddy shoes and boots. Make sure you have a designated spot for wet footwear, like a festive rug or area in the breezeway. You want to ensure that your home stays just as clean for whoever will be touring the home next.

• Keep it fresh: Homes, especially ones not currently being lived in, have a tendency to get stuffy in the winter time. Air out the home on warmer days or have a nice room fragrance available, like a candle or spray. As always, keep pets hidden or away from the main quarters to make sure no additional smells enter the home.

• Keep a steady temperature: Don’t cook your prospective buyers. Keep the home at a steady 65 degrees during showings. Those touring will likely not be taking off their jackets, so there’s no reason to make them sweat.

• Don’t ignore the exterior: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you should neglect the yard. Be sure to keep walkways clear of ice and debris to ensure everyone’s safety. Always shovel the driveway and walks promptly after a snowfall or ice storm.

With these tips and a little bit of thought, adjusting your selling methods to suit the season can only help in the long run.

See ya ’round the mountains,


Georgia Real Estate Continues Recovery

Sunday, August 19th, 2012
Housing Image

Housing Markets Continue to Improve

As the entire state of Georgia continues to slowly improve that bodes well for our market here in North Georgia.  If unemployment numbers, begin to decline and there is any sign of economic growth, the ability of the buyers in the Atlanta Market to sell their homes and move north or once again begin searching for second or vacation homes that will certainly have a very positive impact on our micro-market here in Bent Tree and Big Canoe (R).   Personally, I continue on pace to have my best year ever; after a brief slowdown in July, showings and traffic are both up significantly again in the last few days.  Buyers and sellers are motivated to get something done.  That is always a good thing.

The following statistics were released by the Georgia Association of Realtors on August 17, 2012.

Home Prices Rise in Georgia for Fourth Month in a Row
17 Aug 2012 – 
During the month of the 30th Olympiad, housing medaled in several arenas. A few short years ago, housing was considered a headwind to economic recovery. Today, housing is seen as a tailwind to a stalling economy. For the first time since 2005, housing is on track for contributing positively to national GDP in 2012. That can occur either by way of direct residential investment or through remodeling and other ancillary services. Watch for signs of sustained tailwinds in a variety of indicators, including market times, seller concessions, prices and absorption rates.

In July, New Listings in the state of Georgia decreased 9.3 percent to 10,880. Pending Sales were up 28.4 percent to 9,145. Inventory levels shrank 30.9 percent to 46,956 units. Prices moved higher. The Median Sales Price increased 2.3 percent to $116,500. Days on Market was down 16.4 percent to 82 days. The supply-demand balance stabilized as Months Supply of Inventory was down 40.9 percent to 6.4 months.

Sustained recovery will not occur without real employment and wage growth. Consumers must be confident in both the economy and their family finances before signing on the dotted line. Cheap borrowing costs have served as the glue binding things together. Unimaginable a few years ago, the rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage recently ducked below the 3.49 percent marker. Job creation and GDP numbers will garner particular attention this quarter.

I ran sales numbers for just Pickens County last week for a local retailer and they indicated that local inventory is down slightly, average prices are level to rising , a huge percentage of the market -almost 20% is under some kind of contract (not all those will close and some will take 2-3 months – still a very high humber,) and foreclosures and distressed sales, which have accounted for 50% of all sales for 2 years only account for 10% of the remaining inventory.  I will publish those numbers in another post this week.

See ya ’round the mountains,


The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index Increases after Four Consecutive Declines

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®, which had declined in June, improved slightly in July. The Index now stands at 65.9 (1985=100), up from 62.7 in June. The Expectations Index improved to 79.1 from 73.4. The Present Situation Index, however, decreased slightly to 46.2 from 46.6 a month ago.

The monthly Consumer Confidence Survey®, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The cutoff date for the preliminary results was July 19.

Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board: "Despite this month’s improvement in confidence, the overall Index remains at historically low levels. Consumers’ attitudes regarding current conditions were little changed in July, but their short-term expectations, which had declined last month, bounced back. However, while consumers expressed greater optimism about short-term business and employment prospects, they have grown more pessimistic about their earnings. Given the current economic environment — in particular the weak labor market — consumer confidence is not likely to gain any significant momentum in the coming months."

Consumers’ appraisal of current conditions eased in July. Those claiming business conditions are "good" declined to 13.8 percent from 14.2 percent, while those saying business conditions are "bad" decreased to 34.2 percent from 35.9 percent. Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also mixed. Those stating jobs are "hard to get" declined to 40.8 percent from 41.2 percent, while those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased to 7.8 percent from 8.3 percent.

On the other hand, consumers were generally more optimistic about the short-term outlook in July. The percentage of consumers expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months rose to 18.9 percent from 16.0 percent, while those anticipating business conditions will worsen decreased to 14.6 percent from 15.8 percent. Consumers’ outlook for the labor market was also more upbeat in July. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead increased to 17.6 percent from 14.8 percent, while those anticipating fewer jobs edged down to 20.3 percent from 20.8 percent. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes, however, declined to 14.2 percent from 15.3 percent.

For more information, visit

See ya ’round the mountains,